A traumatic brain Injury happens when the head suffers either a blunt force trauma or something penetrates the skull causing direct injury to the brain. Vehicular accidents, sports injuries, and even “shaken baby syndrome” can result in an injury to the brain. Depending upon its severity a brain injury can cause everything from mild headaches and transient memory loss to permanent brain damage resulting in impaired internal body functions and sometimes, death.
For many individuals who suffer with a TBI, quality of life can be adversely affected due to specific injury to the brain stem, limbic system and temporal or frontal lobes. Damage can include loss of cognition, changes in behavior, and sensory deficits. Memory and language can be affected if the temporal lobe of the brain is injured. Trauma to the limbic system can result in emotional dysregulation.
Individuals who sustain a brain injury frequently awaken from a state of unconsciousness with feelings of confusion, and various degrees of memory loss as well as neurological deficits. When the injury is mild the brain often heals itself and normal functions return. But some individuals experience prolonged difficulty while in a post-concussive state. Still others never regain all their memories or suffer with subtle changes in personality and intellectual functioning.
An initial traumatic impact can also become more invasive, much like a shockwave, traveling by way of the brain’s cells and neurons causing widespread damage to the body’s internal organs. Brain swelling as a complication of traumatic brain injury can also cut off the necessary blood supply to the brain depriving it of oxygen. If the brain is deprived of oxygen too long this can mean either a permanent vegetative state or even death. A more severe traumatic brain injury can cause a heart attack, compromise the lungs and result in loss of bodily functions like bladder and bowel control. If the trauma deeply invasive and destroys neural functioning, it can also result in partial or complete paralysis.
Approximately 1.7 million people will sustain a traumatic brain injury within the next year. 52,000 of those will die due to the severity of their injuries. Senior adults, infants, and preschool age children have the highest risk of suffering head trauma. With the sobering reality that almost one-third of all injury-related deaths are due to traumatic brain injury.  a greater emphasis need to be placed on its prevention. For more information on injury and accident prevention for children and older adults visit Safe Kids USA and Preventing Falls in the Elderly.